Bankstown line conversion – EIS shows all pain and no gain
21 October 2017
Government documents reveal the construction of the Metro in the Bankstown rail corridor will turn the corridor suburbs into a noisy, gridlocked construction hell.
Road and rail infrastructure will be unnecessarily altered and thousands of residents will have their sleep disturbed, their roads gridlocked, their train stations closed and many of their homes placed at risk of excessive vibration.
The Sydenham to Bankstown Alliance has conducted an initial analysis of the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Metro (see background). This EIS is on exhibition until 8 November 2017.
Sydenham to Bankstown Alliance spokesperson, Peter Olive said, “These extraordinary impacts show the complete stupidity of trying to build a new railway line in place of what is an existing first class railway line.”
“Rather than spending billions of dollars building a new Metro line for its development mates, the government should simply do any necessary upgrades on the existing Bankstown line and build a new line to suburbs that don’t current have rail services.”
Road bridges will be fully or partially closed, replacement busses will choke the streets, works compounds will take up community space, there will be a daily upsurge in truck movements and local business will be affected.”
Mr Olive said the construction impacts would be made even worse because the NSW Department of Planning was trying to accelerate housing construction, such as the Carrington Road Precinct, in the corridor at the same time as the railway construction.
“The government has unleashed a wave of development greed across our community at the same time as trying to shut down our line and turn it into construction hell,” he said. “We’re going to have a triple whammy – a high-rise and railway construction nightmare alongside a railway line taken out of service.
“The Department of Planning is proposing 36,000 new homes in the corridor including 10,000 new homes while the railway line is proposed to be constructed.
“Despite this, the Metro EIS cannot even plan for the cumulative impacts of simultaneous rail and urban renewal construction because of the ‘unknown nature and timing of these future urban renewal projects’.
“It is time for the government to put a halt to all railway line and development plans for the corridor, given the looming upcoming disaster to our community and complete lack of government co-ordination,” he said.
Fact sheet on Metro impacts
Quotes and findings from the EIS as found by the Sydenham to Bankstown Alliance
Quotes from the government’s social impact assessment:
“Amenity impacts during construction may result in impacts on community health and safety due to sleep disturbance, stress, and health risks resulting from prolonged exposure to increased noise levels”. 
There will be “dust and lighting impacts in residential areas, actual and perceived safety risks due to construction traffic, increased traffic, and safety around construction compounds and reduced opportunity for active transport due to closure of footpaths and bicycle parking.”
In regard to traffic impacts, “During construction, traffic congestion, travel delays, diversions, access and parking restrictions and alternative public transport arrangements may discourage some people from making some trips or access certain areas, cause increased stress levels in some people, and limit access to some areas.
“This could also affect people’s ability to carry out their usual networking and social activities, impacting on community cohesion. These impacts would be particularly experienced by vulnerable groups (e.g. the elderly, people with disabilities and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds).”
Regarding local employment, “During construction, there could be a potential reduction in local employment and businesses due to acquisition of commercial properties, ceasing of existing commercial leases in some areas along the corridor, changes in access, and amenity issues at businesses within the local business precincts.”
Other findings in the EIS
More than 7,800 properties along the corridor will be exposed to noise at a level which breaches the potential for sleep disturbance criteria (background noise level plus 15 decibels from 10pm to 7am) during the construction period from 2019 to 2024. 
The worst affected suburbs would be Marrickville, Dulwich Hill, Belmore and Bankstown because of the number of residential properties alongside the track.
The sleep disturbance would not be isolated incidents – for instance more than 4,600 properties along the corridor would experience noise from earthworks which exceeds the criteria for 30 weeks during the construction period. 
Seven child care centres, Campsie Police Station, a church at Lakemba and Punchbowl Boys High would all suffer ‘worst case’ exceedances of the relevant noise criteria as they are near the railway corridor.
Some 360 properties, including 39 heritage properties, would be put at risk of damage from excessive vibration levels caused by the use of intensive construction equipment. 
Quiet suburban roads would be gridlocked and subject to additional traffic noise thanks to the extraordinary number of replacement buses required to move 100,000 people a day when the line is shutdown for construction.
Marrickville Rd between Illawarra Rd and Silver Rd at Marrickville would be the worst affected, with a minimum of 825 buses and maximum of 1,515 replacement commuter buses forced on to the road between 7am to 10pm. That’s potentially one bus every 40 seconds for 15 hours. 
Other severely affected roads include New Canterbury Rd at Dulwich Hill and Hurlstone Park (up to 1,020 buses a day), Canterbury Rd, Canterbury (up to 1,185 buses), South Parade Campsie (up to 690 buses) and Burwood Rd, Belmore (up to 690 buses).
These commuter buses along with construction vehicles will cause traffic gridlock, with the suburbs of Canterbury and Campsie being particularly badly affected. For instance, delays during the PM peak of the Beamish St/North Parade intersection at Campsie will increase from 26 seconds to 14 minutes while Beamish St/Clissold Parade intersection delay will increase from 19 seconds to three minutes (with no apparent mitigation measures proposed). 
At least 23 bridges that that go over or under the rail line need to be altered during the conversion of the Sydenham to Bankstown line; some completely rebuilt.
Most bridges require 6-8 months of weekend and several weeks’ of weekday lane closures.
For instance, the Burwood Rd overbridge at Belmore requires six months of weekend land closures and four weeks of weekday lane closures. During these weekday closures, some 19,700 vehicles a day would be impacted and the average delay per vehicle at the Lakemba St/Moreton St roundabout would jump from 11 seconds to 12.5 minutes .
Illawarra Road Overbridge, Marrickville, will be replaced. It requires 28 days of half lane closure and two days of full closures, primarily during peak weekday hours. When a south-bound closure is in place, some 11,900 vehicles a day will be affected and the resultant delays at the Marrickville Rd/Victoria Rd intersection will go from 30 seconds to 15 minutes. 
Works at the bridge over King Georges Rd at Wiley Park will force a closure in one of four south-bound lanes on this major arterial road (which carries 96,800 vehicles a day) for three weeks. During the PM peak traffic delays will jump from 25 seconds to two minutes at the Lakemba St intersection. 
 See page 105 of Chapter 12 of EIS
 Quotes from Metro EIS social impact assessment
 Based on suburb by suburb night-time noise management level exceedances outlined in Chapter 12 of the EIS
 Based on suburb by suburb noise impact assessment of Technical Paper 2 – Noise and Vibration Assessment
 Based on references to vibration exceedances in suburb by suburb on Chapter 12 of EIS
 See pages 210-214 of Technical Paper 2 – Noise and Vibration Assessment
 See page 23 of EIS Vol 2 Technical paper 1_ Traffic transport and access assessment (Part 3)
 See page 227 Technical Paper 1 - Traffic, Transport and Access https://majorprojects.accelo.com/public/21600a9c33e8df5261fa9ad935e28a3a/23_%20S2B%20EIS%20Vol%202%20Technical%20paper%201_%20Traffic%20transport%20and%20access%20assessment_pt%204.pdf
 See page 283 at EIS Vol 2 Technical paper 1_ Traffic transport and access assessment (Part 4)
 See Page 45 Sydenham to Bankstown Metro EIS overview
 Ibid Technical Paper 1 page 227
 See page 242 of EIS Vol 2 Technical paper 1_ Traffic transport and access assessment (Part 4)
 See page 2297 of EIS Vol 2 Technical paper 1_ Traffic transport and access assessment (Part 4)